Within today’s morally corrupt society, upon an escalating number of occasions the unsuspecting victim of divorce begins a personal journey in their own relentless pursuit for clues or subtle hints of past seemingly innocent incidents of which collectively may have unknowingly attributed to an escalating family conflict and eventual demise of their respective marriage, only to eventually discover in hindsight ‘having stood far too close to the trees to have seen the forest’. We are after all, only to think with our penis.
Sadly, an alarming and increasing number of once upon a time ‘fairytale’ marriages mysteriously dissolve into an eight-person ‘WWF’ tag-team pay-per-view hardcore title match, consisting of frequent low blows and often predictable outside interference, throughout the fierce “he said / she said” battle raging within the squared circle that closely resembles our overburdened Family and Domestic Relations courts, all oblivious to a distracted referee pacified with the previously scripted conclusion, upon simply adding an identifiable and readily available catalyst, gender bias.
For more than twenty-five years, fathers have been encouraged to become more involved with their children, from conception and Lamaze through birthing, feeding, diapering, and quality time. Believing that the law means what it says, when it promises that fathers and mothers are treated equally, American fathers are deceivingly led down a primrose path every day within the family courts, only to discover they have somehow ventured into the Land Of Gender Bias, where they are systematically stripped of their parental rights without the slightest idea of why, and immediately transformed into second-class parents, most often with disastrous legal results. We are after all, destined to fail.
When fathers seek custody of their children, courts make them jump through fire-ringed hoops doused in highly flammable liquid, in placing undue hardship upon those attempting to disprove the pre-determined notion that we are no more than second-class parents, or sperm donors with open wallets, incapable of loving, raising and nurturing our children. Although some progress has been made, mothers continue to receive the red carpet treatment. We are after all, guilty of having left the toilet seat up.
Family Courts within this nation remain a bloody battlefield of which many fathers frequently sustain combat-related injuries, with a fatality rate far worse than soldiers of long ago, respectively engaged in a controversial political war or conflict nobody wants to freely admit direct involvement within an era of “plausible deniability”, alone enduring battle-fatigue in a true test of faith and honor far worthy of a Purple Heart commendation.
Unfortunately, this continued bias and “guilty until proven innocent” mentality does not exist within the family courts alone. As if not already enduring the surreal hardships and rude awakening found within the courts, fathers often find themselves subjected to being the lone isolated surviving member hopelessly trapped within a non-neutral corner and surrounded by devoted Weight Watchers members whom view the despised intruder as a Snickers bar. Far too many gender biased agencies co-exist within a well-defined ‘conspiracy theory’ covert operation readily available and accessible for exploitation by those within the sisterhood.
Combined with the ever increasing apparent availability of frequent flier miles or double coupons obtainable in both directly and indirectly using and abusing the respective children services agencies and/or by selective screening process of its mandatory reporters, a growing number of mothers knowingly possess an unspoken allied kinship in the profound ability to file, with apparent ease, numerous false allegations of child abuse at will upon an innocent father - without fear due to the obvious lack of legal consequence.
Improperly trained and mentally conditioned to salivate in response to any reported allegations of abuse - treated as evidentiary fact rather than hearsay - far too many child abuse investigators, apparently incapable of rational thought process combined dangerously with an alleged “immunity from prosecution” in remaining unaccountable for their own negligence or incompetence, blindly and aggressively pursue lengthy close-minded investigations or unwarranted legal action upon innocent or unsuspecting fathers. God forbid should a father act “inappropriately” in the eyes of a children services investigator in natural response to being confronted with the false allegation of child abuse. We are after all, only to be the disciplinarians.
Numerous law enforcement agencies, most often understaffed yet consisting of overworked, untrained and often illiterate peace officers, blindly pursue and arrest unsuspecting men and/or fathers on a daily basis suspected of alleged domestic violence or other alleged family disturbances upon the apparent fluffing of the tear-laden eyelashes by a self-proclaimed female victim, simply further exploiting and abusing a readily-available system to fit her own personal agenda. We are after all, only destined to be the batterers.
When is the last time a person read a newspaper article or watched a television news-report identifying and applauding the positive parenting ideals and devotion of a custodial father? Instead, the media constantly sells and prints to its avid readers and/or viewers far too frequent biased reminders of male-oriented alleged domestic violence arrests; continued politically incorrect usage of “deadbeat dad” scandals; fathers arrested for criminal concealment; alleged child abuse allegations; sex scandals, death, destruction and mayhem caused nationally apparently in epidemic proportions solely dominated by men.
Nationally, thousands of State and Federally funded programs solely exist today, and despite transparent claims to remain free of gender bias, openly embrace, support, or readily assist the custodial as well as noncustodial mother in a collective united effort while further systematically stripping fathers of any remaining parental rights or equality. Should a father, or even worse yet any custodial father, endure documented domestic violence or extreme financial hardship while attempting to raise his children, these very same agencies without hesitation, quickly slam the door of opportunity or assistance within the faces of the children and father. God forbid should a custodial father even contemplate obtaining a Civil Protection Order or Stalking CPO. We are after all, physically larger.
Within a politically driven north-central Ohio county, an apparent need arose for an additional emergency shelter to assist custodial fathers and male victims of domestic violence of which the non-profit agency by law had to seek the support and approving votes by the county residents of this non-tax issue. Far before being made readily known to the general public, several influential county officials were repeatedly quoted within the printed media openly stating their biased disapproval and opinions questioning a need for such a facility. What the media conveniently failed to print was the fact only ONE emergency shelter existed – located in extreme northwest Ohio - within the entire northern Ohio region capable of assisting a custodial father and his children. The proposal was overwhelmingly defeated later by the voters.
With designed encouragement of a local child advocate, and as a survivor of domestic violence and stalking, I appeared within another Ohio county at a “Domestic Violence Rally” upon a particular crisp October morning with full intentions to be among the active speakers that day. Not including the uniformed male police officer of whom was obviously preoccupied drinking coffee and consuming a jelly-filled donut in apparent world record time, it was brought to my immediate attention - by a female county agency service director - that the gathering consisted entirely of women and custodial mothers further resulting in a formal request I should depart from the area. I specifically can recollect numerous examples of this double standard, of which most are reflected upon within the contents of this book in having directly effected my sons and I.
Advocacy and active movements spearheaded by mothers and women in general, are openly embraced and supported nationally often resulting with additional public outcry and renewed interests or expressed concerns from our politicians that so eagerly jump upon the bra-burning bandwagon, brandishing new legislation, without the faintest clue as to REALITY.
In irony, should a father – or worse yet, a custodial father – with ‘testicular fortitude’ become proactive in raising his voice in advocating for the rights of his or other minor children and/or actively seek equality for all regardless of gender within a biased system, he is quickly cast aside and labeled as “politically incorrect”, a certifiable psycho, a vigilante, accused of forming a militia, or as history so frequently dictates, assassinated, for the very same beliefs and ideals.
The continued gender bias evident throughout today’s society has resulted in far more tragic consequence fully impacted upon and endured by the most fragile party to any divorce, our innocent children. As the only true victims of any divorce, children often finding themselves thrust into the limelight and used as a bitter wedge or a tool of vengeance, by one (most often the biological mother) or both parents upon the other. Far too often custody is granted without any regard to whom is actually the better parent and what is truly in the best interests of the children.
Aided by a biased system, flesh and blood children, once filled with laughter, life and hope, are mysteriously transformed into apparent exclusive rights of personal property and/or a cash crop upon being awarded to the mother whom often receives additional monetary compensation in “maintenance or spousal support” as they are naturally expected to continue raising the children, most often within the once marital home along with a vehicle and other marital assets, of which any remaining debt or mortgage is further assigned upon the noncustodial and financially-overburdened father.
Should a mother somehow ‘lose custody’ of her children – as erroneously stated when children wind up living with their father – upon full recovery of the initial shock and its side-effects endured upon being designated as the custodial parent, the once minute previously unreadable paragraph consisting of fine print found upon the majority of contracts, is suddenly magnified tenfold revealing an unforeseen penalty clause consisting of additional double standards, hidden costs and imposed penalties, as well as unrealistic expectations placed upon the custodial father by the very identical system and further enforced, by society itself.
Whereas custodial mothers are often granted excessive child support awards, in true comparison, custodial fathers are more often granted minimal child support or none at all and perhaps unenforceable minimal child medical support as well as any marital monetary debt as an added bonus, regardless of the noncustodial mother’s unlimited income or assets. Forget even bringing up any ill-conceived notion regarding temporary “maintenance or spousal support” regardless of the children’s ages even should the custodial father be forced to make an unexpected yet worthwhile career change in the best interests of the children, as we are expected to work and even penalized monetarily and subjected to scrutiny for alleged ‘underemployment’ should we attempt or even consider placing our children’s best interests and well-being first.
In attempts to even further ridicule custodial fathers and as supported by national statistics compiled and provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. DHHS, whereas statistical percentages of custodial mothers receiving portions of court ordered child support were found to be at 70%, custodial fathers only received 55%. Combined with far too frequent bake sales and crafts, even we as custodial fathers, are destined to fail.
Throughout America children respectively awake each morning only to discover that they no longer have the ‘traditional’ loving family which just the day before had consisted of both a mother and father. While unjustifiably cut off from contact with the other parent (most often the father), the unsuspecting yet curious child far too often is subjected by the vengeance filled parent to emotional abuse and turmoil in enduring repeated one-sided biased versions of “just how bad Dad” allegedly was in horrific graphic detail. After perhaps a brief moment of silence, the child is then introduced to his alleged “new and improved Dad.” God forbid should that child not immediately respond in kind and recognize this stranger as such and not refer to the biological father by only his given name. We are after all, easily discarded and replaceable.
Despite reassurances, the children often blame themselves for the demise of the marriage - though no fault of their own - only to isolate themselves, school grades are effected, as well as the other obvious indicators of a troubled child, only to much later act out angrily in obvious frustration, defiance and/or rage. Without a positive mentor present in their life to offer guidance, and seeking to simply belong, these lost souls become easy prey to drugs or become ritually ‘adopted’ within youth gangs frequently engaging in illegal activity. Throughout the past twenty years, child and teen suicide rates have skyrocketed tenfold.
Contrary to biased public opinion, biological fathers are NOT a child’s greatest threat of abuse or physical harm. While personally conducting lengthy interviews and compiling statistical research and child abuse data – provided by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio and additional state/federal resources - in support of an attempted formal grant proposal I had written in mid-1999 seeking funds necessary to implement a planned child abuse prevention project, child abuse statistics on both the State and Federal level clearly reflected and identified that the largest, most significant, foreseen child abuse indicator consisted “of a child residing with a biological mother within a residence for which a boyfriend was actively present or directly involved.”
Whereas “Shattered Innocence: An American Tragedy” is based upon actual substantiated events originally documented within a once handwritten journal by a father in Ohio, the true story is merely one of the numerous equally tragic examples of continued “politics at the expense of children” echoed repeatedly throughout our country, exposing in detail the intolerable double standard and gender bias existing within the entire family system and the direct impact it has upon our children of today.
Before sending any suspicious brown-wrapped ticking packages or hate mail forwarded to our mailing address, understand that I am neither pro-father nor pro-mother, but remain gender neutral as a pro-parent, far more concerned in advocating for the rights of children for obvious reasons asserted within.
However, had the parental roles been reversed.......
As one shall soon discover upon reading and reflecting upon our ordeal, both of my sons are and remain the true heroes of and inspiration for “Shattered Innocence”. In comparison, I just happened to be the father, whom blindly endured and documented his findings while embarked upon an awakening journey, without a map, far into the uncharted mountainous regions discovered within the “Land Of Gender Bias”, in advocating for my children – asANY parent should.
Far too often it is the children’s cries of innocence shattered that tragically remain unheard, falling upon the alleged adults and professionals impaired with selective hearing. Perhaps through “Shattered Innocence” the collective voices of all children – our children – shall be finally heard and effectively end the bias that remains unaccounted for today, in future hopes NO child nor parent – regardless of gender – shall ever endure this fate again.
"Each time a man stands for an ideal or sets out to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustices, he sends forth a ripple of hope."